Mediaweek launched its list of Icons at the 2022 Mediaweek 100 Power Lunch.
This year we remind you of those eight Mediaweek Icons (below in alphabetical order) ahead of the announcement at our 2023 event of a new name for this exclusive club.
Mediaweek Icons: Mikael Borglund
In October 2022, production and distribution giant Banijay acquired Beyond International, a scripted and non-scripted multi-territory content group launched and still run by chief executive Mikael Borglund. “The original intent was just to make one TV show,” Borglund told Mediaweek. In 2024 it will be 40 years since the company was launched.
The original team with Borglund was three reporters who quit the ABC – Carmel Travers, Iain Finlay and Chris Ardill-Guinness – plus executive producers Peter Abbott and John Luscombe. Luscombe had previously worked on the ABC’s Towards 2000 and he came across after the ABC didn’t renew the show, and he still works alongside Borglund.
The team sold the Beyond program franchise to Seven in 1984 and the embryonic Beyond, originally called CIC Productions, was engaged to make it for them.
Beyond 2000 continued to be successful although it moved to Ten at one stage and then found its way back to Seven later with the name changing to Beyond Tomorrow. “It had a couple of interrupted runs,” Luscombe told Mediaweek.
Beyond has made much of its content for the US market, which has then been sold elsewhere around the world. One series was key in lifting the company’s fortunes – MythBusters.
Other key programs over the years included Just For The Record and Extra Dimensions for the Ten Network, and an Olivia Newton-John animal series called Human Nature which featured a young Tim Worner as the executive producer. Brad Lyons was on the payroll once too working on Invention. Kim Dalton also worked for Beyond, plus Brian Smith who was on camera and later worked internationally for National Geographic.
ABC chair Ita Buttrose revealed earlier in 2023 that she will not seek reappointment to the role when her term ends in March 2024, a position she has held since 2019.
Buttrose has held executive and editing roles for major Australian media companies including Australian Consolidated Press, News Limited and Fairfax Media, and has run her own media company, Capricorn Publishing. She has served on the boards of Australian Consolidated Press, News Corp Australia, and Television & Telecasters Pty Ltd. (Network Ten). She has worked in print, radio and television and has written 11 books. She was inducted into the Australian Media Hall of Fame in 2017.
One of Australia’s most reclusive “media barons”, Cameron took over the family radio business Grant Broadcasters which grew into a network of 55 mainly regional radio stations.
When Cameron finally allowed journalist Peter Saxon to interview her in 2017, he asked why she was always so reluctant to speak to the media. “What have I got to say? Nothing really. There are a lot more interesting people. I’m a relic.”
In late 2021, ARN announced its acquisition of Grant Broadcasters, giving advertisers the potential to reach over 90% of Australians nationwide. Cameron still worked in the business at that stage, along with her children Alison, Grant and Dugald.
The acquisition included radio and digital operations across 46 Grant stations.
The sale was worth $307.5m. Of that, 22.5% of the purchase consideration was delivered in ARN shares.
The business was not looking for a sale, with Alison telling Mediaweek if ARN wanted to make an offer she made sure they knew it had to be a good one.
“For 80 years Walter Grant, his daughter Janet Cameron and her family have been operating regional radio stations that serve local communities in regional Australia. We are so very proud of the connection the stations have with those communities and of our staff for continuing that commitment,” Alison said after revealing the sale.
Is there anybody who has navigated more twists and turns in the media landscape in Australia? From his days in the movie and TV distribution business, Gordon moved into regional TV, building WIN Corp and investing in other media businesses along the way. The recent loss of Nine as his regional affiliate partner and then winning it back as soon as Hugh Marks had left the building was among recent successes. Gordon is also a significant shareholder in Seven West Media and Nine Entertainment via his private investment company Birketu. A recent investment is $400m for the redevelopment of the Wollongong CBD.
A former chief executive officer of Seven West Media and the Nine Network, David Leckie passed away in June 2021. His wife Skye revealed he died at Mulberry Farm, Robertson after a long illness.
As chief executive officer of Nine Network from 1990 to 2001, he cemented its leading position in the television industry. Leckie worked in sales and management under Kerry Packer at Nine for 23 years before being hired by Kerry Stokes in 2003 in a move to rejuvenate the Seven Network. It worked. Seven soon became the #1 network in both ratings and revenue with its mix of news, sport and entertainment.
In addition to his expertise in sales, Leckie had a brilliant understanding of what Australians wanted to watch on television, a long track record of mentoring media executives, and a lifetime passion for rugby.
In September 2023 it was revealed that Rupert Murdoch was stepping down as chairman of the board of both News Corp and Fox Corp. Taking his place at the top of both companies after the next AGMs is his eldest son Lachlan Murdoch. Rupert Murdoch will be appointed chairman emeritus of each company.
Rupert Murdoch was executive chairman of 21st Century Fox, from 2015 to the closing of the merger of 21st Century Fox and The Walt Disney Company in March 2019. Murdoch served as CEO of 21st Century Fox from its inception as News Corporation in 1979 until 2015 and as its chairman from 1991 to 2015.
He inherited his father’s interests in the Adelaide newspaper The News in 1952, becoming editor, publisher and a member of the board of News Limited the following year. In 1954, Murdoch took control of News Limited and later moved into television. His company founded the Southern Television Corporation and pushed its newly licensed Channel 9 to be the first to air in 1959 in South Australia.
Global expansion under his leadership began as News Limited bought the Sydney-based Daily Mirror and Sunday Mirror in 1960, followed by the launch of The Australian, Australia’s first national newspaper, in 1964. The company gained control of the UK’s News of the World and The Sun in 1969 and subsequently acquired several publications in the US including the New York Post.
More details about the rest of Rupert Murdoch’s media journey here.
After initially being involved in construction and property development, at the age of 29 in 1969, Kerry Stokes invested in the development of GWN, a regional Western Australian television station. A decade later he began acquiring local television stations in Canberra, Adelaide and Perth, along with radio stations. In 1996 he acquired a stake in Seven Network stations in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide. Since 2006, the Seven Network has formed one arm of Seven West Media, which incorporates West Australian Newspapers, publisher of The West Australian. The Seven Network footprint expanded to cover all of Australia in 2021 with the acquisition of the Prime Network. Other investments include property, construction, mining and petroleum exploration. Over 40 years Stokes has built a collection of art, maps, rare books and artefacts and donated to institutions including the Australian War Memorial and the National Gallery of Australia, of which he was chairman for several years. The Stokes Collection, housed in Perth, has been called one of the world’s finest private museums.
Seven Group Holdings, the parent company of Seven West Media, announced recently that Kerry Stokes will step down as chairman after the company’s Annual General Meeting in November.
Stokes has indicated though that he will continue as chairman of the TV, digital and publishing business Seven West Media.
Brian Walsh was a special guest at the first Mediaweek 100 Power lunch in October 2022 and passed away in March 2023.
He had been part of the Foxtel management team since the business launched in 1995. Under his last contract with Foxtel, he was to continue his consultancy with the subscription TV platform. He planned to continue to work on local content strategy, industry relations and was to continue spearheading the Foxtel Originals drama division.
“This is my 27th year I’ve been involved with Foxtel,” Walsh told Mediaweek in 2022. “I was part of the pioneering management team in 1995 that launched the service. I joined the company back then as a consultant because I still had my own promotions business going.”
Brian began his career with ABC before going into feature film production and distribution at Palm Beach Pictures and promotions and publicity at Sydney Radio Station 2SM. After five years at Radio 2SM, Walsh joined Network Ten, where he launched major network events, including the acclaimed Kennedy Miller mini-series Vietnam, The Bangkok Hilton, and The Dirtwater Dynasty. Walsh was also credited with responsibility for the global success of the iconic Australian family drama series Neighbours and launching the careers of Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan and Guy Pearce.
In subscription TV over the past two decades, he oversaw all scripted and unscripted commissions for the Foxtel Group. This included the series Wentworth, Upright, Deadline Gallipoli, The Kettering Incident, The End and most recently the award-winning and globally distributed series Love Me, Colin from Accounts and The Twelve.